5 Draft Prospects the Saints Should Target in the 1st Round of the 2013 Draft
As the New Orleans Saints rise up (yes I'm taking that from the Atlanta Falcons) within the NFL standings and make an almost too late playoff run, the 2013 NFL draft gets pushed back to the peripheral in terms of Saints' fans consciences.
Of course the positioning of the team is still very much in the air, as the team still has nine regular season games to play. Those nine games will go a long way to determining just where the team will pick in the 2013 draft.
No matter their position, though, there are five players who the Saints should target in the first round of the draft.
Texas A&M, OT, Jake Matthews
The New Orleans Saints have missed out on the past two members of the Matthews' NFL pipeline clan (Clay and Casey). It's OK though, Jake might be the best of the bunch.
He is a rock on Texas A&M's beastly offensive line. Though not the elite prospect that teammate Luke Joeckel is considered to be, Matthews looks like an NFL mainstay.
The son of Hall of Fame center Bruce Matthews, Jake could easily play on the right or left side for New Orleans for 10-15 years. His dominance against the two best defenses in the SEC (and college football for that matter), LSU and Alabama, proves he will be a great player.
If the Saints do not get him, someone else will get a cornerstone offensive tackle.
Texas A&M, DE, Damontre Moore
Damontre Moore has every tool and trait a team would like in a 4-3 defensive end. For that reason he is now climbing up draft boards.
New Orleans will only be in position to take Moore (who I project to be the No. 1 defensive end at draft time) if they tank the rest of the season. Nonetheless, Moore is a player the Saints would love in their aggressive 4-3 scheme.
Moore has elite range sideline-to-sideline, which few defensive ends possess. He can hold the point of attack in the running game and turn running backs into the middle.
More importantly, though, he has great burst and acceleration to get to the quarterback. In short, he'd be a younger and cheaper version of Will Smith and a great player to pair with Cameron Jordan for the next decade.
LSU, DE, Sam Montgomery
Sam Montgomery has seen his stock drop the past month or so of the college football season. He still remains an elite prospect in my mind. But if his stock slips, he could fall into the lap of the Saints.
Obviously LSU fans who double as Saints fans (which probably is about 90 percent of them) would be stoked to have him. And rightfully so, as Montgomery is freakishly talented.
Some production questions have risen. But Montgomery's ability to penetrate gaps in the running game and hold up at the point of attack are similar to Damontre Moore's. He's not the pass-rusher that Moore is, but is still developed and can create pressure and help teammates get to the quarterback.
Mississippi State, CB, Johnthan Banks
It's clear the New Orleans Saints are lacking a true No. 1 cornerback. Jabari Greer used to hold a strong grip on that title, but injuries and age have caught up to him.
Patrick Robinson is Antonio Cromartie reincarnated (or maybe his first son) who will occasionally make a big play but makes up for those (or the other way around) by making 10 dumb plays and regularly getting burned in coverage.
All that makes a cornerback a great need in this draft.
Though Dee Milliner figures to be gone before the Saints pick, an equally talented corner figures to be available later in the first round, Johnthan Banks from Mississippi State.
Banks has experience playing a plethora of zone coverages and matching up with talented receivers in man-to-man coverage. He is the closest thing the Saints could find to be a true No. 1 corner.
Oregon, DE, Dion Jordan
Some have Dion Jordan falling down draft boards in recent weeks. That's interesting since he had a meteoric rise in the middle of the college season.
Jordan is a guy I like more each time I watch him. Apparently other draft experts disagree.
Nonetheless, if Jordan falls into the Saints' lap in the 15-20 range, the team would be foolish not to take him.
While he may not be the pure defensive end prospect that Jordan or Montgomery are, some (including Bleacher Report's own Matt Miller) are comparing him to Jason Pierre-Paul.
That is fine company and would be quite a sight for Saints fans to see in the future, should it come true. Pair a freak with Cam Jordan and the Saints could enjoy one of the best defensive lines in the league for years to come.
There you have it. I picked four SEC players, but that shouldn't be a big surprise given the way the conference figures to dominate the first round of this draft. The other best conference in football (Pac-12) provided the final prospect.
Of course, much of this could change as players' stocks rise and fall, and as the Saints' draft position does one or the other. But right now, this looks like a fairly accurate portrayal of players the Saints could target in the 2013 draft.